Today’s teens are up to something sinister.
Every year or two marks the arrival of another book purporting to clarify the unintelligible glyphs parents spot on their teens’ cell phone screens. In between, at least a dozen articles on the same topic are written. Are we getting closer to the truth? Will parents ever crack the code?
And, while we’re asking questions, how many of these things are really being said? Almost none. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be extremely worried.
Here are nine of the best-known resources on the topic arranged by experience level, and, where available, what parents say have to say about them. BOLAKAEOFSTT*.
(*Best of luck and keep an eye out for suspicious teen texting!)
Before you can infiltrate the insidery codes teens use to talk to one another, you have to learn how to text in the first place. It’s not as easy as you think. Sometimes, describing how to do it can take up to 92 pages.
1. “E-Z Text Messaging 4 Grandparents,” by Valli Marti
This is a precious artifact, usable for both the innocent grandparent and for the grandparent who wants to get involved in his or her grandchild’s texting.
2. “Read Between the Lines,” by Shawn Marie Edgington
Reviewer B. Jackson writes, under review title “NEEDED TO COMMUNICATE WITH KIDS,” that this book helped him/her learn “how to basically Tweet and text.” “Basically” is a start!
3. “Text Message Survival Guide,” by Evie and Jack Shoeman
One of the book’s two 5-star reviews: “This is a great resource book if you like to text message. It is also great for parents to know what there kids are text messaging.” - E. Shoeman. And she would know.
4. “The Code: Basics for Texting and Instant Messaging,” by John and Barbara Dorgan
Another texting manual written by a married couple, The Code has a leg up over the Text Message Survival Guide in both the title and the fact that it was reviewed by a former FBI official (!). This one doesn’t offer a preview, but does promise “an acronym reference chapter” with “items of great concern are flagged for ease of recognition.”
You’ve learned how to send and receive texts, and have gained at least a minimal level of trust with your teen. What do you say to it? I mean, him or her? Here are a few tips to get you started.
5. “92 Teen Text Terms Decoded for Confused Parents,” by Jessica Citizen
Citizen’s list starts and ends normally enough (2Day, AFAIK, B/C, YMMV, ZOM), but things get weird around the middle. See: “IANAL” for “I am not a lawyer,” “RAK” for “random act of kindness.” What are they getting up to?? It’s worse than we thought!
6. “Top 20 Text Abbreviations You Should Know,” by Marcia Hansen
Among acronyms Hansen considers most pressing for parents and grandparents looking to catch up to their younger relations are: “WOG,” for “Wise Old Guy,” “OTOH” for “On The Other Hand” (thoughtful debaters, these teens), and “DUNA,” which paradoxically means “Don’t Use No Acronyms.”
Are you sure you want to know what your teens are almost certainly in no way texting? This next portion of the guide gets dark.
7. Teen Chat Room Slang, on safesurfingkids.com
The title might use the term “chat room,” but the article clearly states that this is a guide for suspicious teen code in ALL forms of digital communication: (emphasis theirs):
“Kids and teens love to chat in their own secret language on their computers. Online, they enter chat rooms, send email, texting, Twittering and instant messages using a series of acronyms, initials, letters, and secret words on the Internet.”
Don’t start this guide if you aren’t ready, because it goes deep: “BIOYIOB” is “blow it out your I/O port,” confusingly, and “G2GTAC” is “got to go take a crap.” (Curiously, “IANAL” comes up again.) Some are polite, though, like “ICOCBW”: I could, of course, be wrong.
8. “99 Texting Acronyms You (and Every Other Parent) Should Know,” an editorial by ihatethemedia.com
There isn’t any other way to describe it: this list of texting abbreviations is FILTHY. Asks the author: “if you saw your daughter sending the text message, ‘PAW GYPO; I’ll GNOC later,’ would you know she just scheduled a time for a naked video camera session after you go to bed for the night?” !!!!! No, I would not know that!
Among other codes to watch out for: “NIFOC = Nude in front of the computer” and “IMEZRU = I am easy, are you?”
(The rest are much worse.)
Memorize what you’ve seen here.
But remember that we’ll never REALLY know everything teen acronyms mean, because they are making up new ones constantly. It’s either that or adults are making up acronyms that sound sort of like things teens would text, but which they never actually would. Still: BSTS. (“Better safe than sorry.”) (Or is it “Bullshit, that’s stupid”?? Ah well.)